Friday, October 18, 2019

If God Is For Us


If God is for us, who can be against us?
                                 Paul’s letter to the Romans 8:31

I saw it and wondered what to do. The prudent part of me answered immediately, “It won’t come up again for another three years, ignore it, everyone else does.”

I’m speaking about a reading that comes up just once in the three-year cycle.  Here is a portion:

In those days, Amalek came and waged war against Isreal. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some men for us, and tomorrow go out and engage Amalek in battle. I will be standing on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.  Exodus 17:8,9

If you’re not sure about for whom we should root and why, send me an e-mail.

And Joshua mowed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.  Exodus 17:10

Am I the only having a hard time cheering the victory? 

If you’re having a hard time with your decision, take a look at the verse we don’t hear this morning.

Then the LORD said to Moses: Write this down in a book as something to be remembered, and recite it to Joshua:  I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under the heavens. Exodus 17:14

Wow!  That is harsh!

For the past few week’s I’ve researched, studied and reflected on this portion of Exodus.  The best help I have found is from Bishop Robert Barron who suggests looking at this reading allegorically. 

An allegory is a figure of speech that teaches a moral lesson using (in this case “historical”) characters, figures and events. 

So, what is the moral lesson of this story?

For me, the lesson has nothing to do our enemies or the memories of the blotted out Amalek.  It has nothing to do with war, or even the just use of force. 

The lesson is about God and comes from Paul’s letter to the church at Rome.  We sang it as our processional hymn last week and will sing it again today as we leave church.  It is written at the top of this article.

Blessed to be in ministry at St. Mary’s,

Bruce

PS
I continue to struggle with violent biblical texts.

PPS
If you are at the 10:30 liturgy you will not find the psalm in the usual place.  Turn to #620.




Thursday, October 10, 2019

Jesus, You Are the Healing


Jesus, you are the healing, 
you came to make us whole again.
                             “You Are The Healing”  words and music by Scott Soper

Today’s scripture readings contain 2 stories about healing. A significant part of both stories is that the main character (the person) healed is not Jewish.

In Second Kings Chapter 5 the Prophet Elisha instructs Naaman to plunge in the River Jordan. Naaman is the General of the Arameans, a people at war with Israel. The reading ends with the newly healed Naaman making testimony to the Lord.

Interestingly, the person who brings Naaman to Elisha is an Israelite girl captured by the Arameans in a raid and works as a servant for Naaman’s wife. Another interesting thread has to do with a man named Gehazi.  (I’ll leave that or you to read.)

In the gospel we hear a story where a Samaritan is among 10 people healed of leprosy.
  1. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met [him]. They stood at a distance from him
  2. and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”
  3. And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”* As they were going they were cleansed.
  4. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
Here is a portion of the U.S. Catholic Bishop’s commentary:
This incident... provides an instance of Jesus holding up a non-Jew as an example to his Jewish contemporaries....(resembling).... Lk 10:33 where a similar purpose is achieved in the story of the good Samaritan....

If you are like me, you might wonder as to why only one the 10 realize he had been healed. The answer is found in the continuation of the commentary and is the main point of today’s scripture lessons.

.....it is the faith in Jesus manifested by the foreigner that has brought him salvation.

Our processional, “If God Is For Us” (#605) and offertory “You Are the Healing” (#399) were selected to highlight God’s healing power. The recessional hymn “Now Thank We All Our God” (#196) gives us the opportunity to praise God for God’s gift of healing in our lives.

Blessed to be in ministry at St. Mary’s

Bruce

PS
We continue our October devotion to the Blessed Mother by singing “Hail Mary, Gentle Woman” (#705) as the Gathering Song.



Saturday, September 28, 2019

The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor


“The Lord hears the cry of the poor.”
Paraphrase of Psalm 34

Today’s gospel brought back memories of one way my mom would scold us: “First you laugh, then you cry.”  Clearly, Jesus (and Mom’s) point is not simply some arbitrary reversal of feelings.

On the other hand, can we rally believe that our place in is life is totally deserved?  Take a moment to consider how much luck of the draw plays in our position, wealth and status.

Getting back to the gospel:

The Gospel of Luke.....will confound all our expectations and will overturn our experiences. In fact, in the Kingdom of God everything will be turned upside down.  This is especially true when it comes to power, privilege and wealth. Luke assures us time and again that in God’s Kingdom those who struggle in life now—those who are at the bottom or on the edges of human society—will suddenly find themselves at the top and in the center. On the other hand, he warns those who now enjoy the greatest human security and social advantage that their experience may be very different......This notion that in the end God will turn everything we know upside down is often called the “Great Reversal.” It is a hallmark of Luke’s Gospel, where it appears frequently.  
From  “God’s Great Reversal:  Key to the Gospel of Luke” Franciscan media.

Elaine Rendler, one of my go to sources asks the following:  Who might be considered a Lazarus in our lives?.....In a nutshell, a Lazarus is someone for whom we do not have enough compassion.  Let us pray today for compassion.  We will all be richer people.  It is what keeps us human. 

Blest to be in ministry with you at St. Mary’s,

Bruce

“Here at your table the greatest are least.  The burdened find rest and the hungry can feast….God in your goodness, we share a place at your table.”
“A Place At Your Table”   Words and music by Ben Walther



If God Is For Us

If God is for us, who can be against us?                                    Paul’s letter to the Romans 8:31 I saw...